The Washington Economic Development Commission (WEDC) released its economic development and jobs report—Driving Washington’s Prosperity: Strategy for Job Creation and Competitiveness. WEDC reports that the message is simple—we can and must do better. The Commission recommended five ‘Drivers’ of job Development. They are summarized below.
Driver 1: Making Talent a Top Priority
- Create jobs for Washingtonians and address industry needs by expanding the capacity of community and technical colleges and four-year universities to achieve a post-secondary education attainment rate to at least 60 percent (degrees and credentials) of the working-age population by the year 2025.
- Increase the pool of qualified workers by giving greater emphasis to STEM proficiencies and career and technical education at the high school level through more interaction with business, apprenticeships, support of skill centers, and making use of industry developed skill standards for curriculum development and career guidance.
- Fill critical skills gaps and grow new enterprises by attracting and retaining the world’s best and brightest minds and entrepreneurs through fact based visa related reform and greater funding for higher education in high demand occupations.
- Upgrade the skills of the unemployed through expanded flexibility of unemployment programs to support training in fields where job vacancies exist.
Driver 2: Investing in Entrepreneurship
- Target improvements to regulatory and tax policy to foster growth of start-ups and job creating business clusters.
- Invest in world class research talent, assist new enterprise formation and connect the state’s research base to industry, entrepreneurs and investors.
- Leverage the job creating potential of the Washington innovation ecosystem through large scale collaboration and competing aggressively for federal, foundation and private investment support.
Driver 3: Connecting Through Reliable Infrastructure
- Implement alternative financing mechanisms for transportation infrastructure to preserve basic assets, freight mobility and investment in critical economic corridors to ensure jobs, supply chain productivity and trade expansion.
- Prioritize the most critical infrastructure challenges and lead globally in such areas as energy efficiency, clean-water solutions, advanced manufacturing, cyber-security sustainable in urban design and broadband deployment.
- Require the use of economic development and long term job creation criteria in the capital budgeting process and selecting project investments.
Driver 4: Regulating in the Smartest Ways
- Initiate a systematic sector-by-sector review of state regulations for their cost-effectiveness and determine overlaps, excessive costs, obsolescence, redundancy and solutions.
- Expand agency use of lean process improvements to lower the cost of regulatory compliance and reduce time delays.
- Create “navigator service” for industry to manage their interaction with the regulatory system, including a comprehensive, user-friendly, online portal for regulatory compliance as recommended by State Auditor’s Office Regulatory Reform report.
Driver 5: Expanding International Business
- Intensify innovation collaboration in the Pacific Northwest economic region and support cross-border projects that can lead to economic diversification, expanded trade opportunities and jobs.
- Drive job creation through an optimized state-regional-private export partnership and provide a coordinated suite of global trade services and connections available to Washington state companies.
- Strengthen export assistance services and re-establish overseas representation to augment Washington’s international competitiveness and realize the state’s export goals.
- Double the number of state-led, new-to-market, cluster-based trade missions (including service industries) to increase the number of new-to-market exporting firms.